two field guide-style drawings of birds with cocktail listings below them
Pages from the Meadowlark’s drink menu Credit: Courtesy Abe Vucekovich

John James Audubon was a complicated character. On one hand, the French-American artist and ornithologist wrote and hand painted the 435 gorgeous life-size prints that make up the original birder bible: The Birds of America. And yet, he was a despicable human: a racist, vehement anti-abolitionist, and enslaver (among other things), facts that have caught up with the Chicago Audubon Society, which plans to rub his name out of the local chapter.

That has not stopped many patrons of Logan Square’s marvelous Meadowlark from nicking about half of the first 500 printed copies of its inaugural menu, a mock field guide featuring drinks inspired by Audubon prints. Beverage director Abe Vucekovich (a Violet Hour alum) narrowed down 16 prints of native midwestern birds to illustrate his wildly varied, sometimes challenging, but uniformly delicious cocktails: a swooping Herring Gull for a floral, fruity tequila-pear, brandy-Ramazotti-peach potion; a pair of uncharacteristically noble Chicago Pigeons for a gin-smoked Malort–Earl Grey flip; brooding Turkey Buzzards for a Sazerac-style rye-rum-amaro mix with mole bitters, poured neat into a rocks glass.

The thefts became such a problem that now if bartenders spot patrons swiping the menu, they’ll ding the poacher’s tab $8. Don’t put that kind of Audubon energy into the world; you can just ask them to sell you one. That’s at least until May 1 when Vucekovich unveils a new menu with a new theme: no more Audubon, no more birds, but “a celebration of Chicago and a bygone era.”

The Meadowlark
2812 W. Palmer, 773-697-8070

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